As the Ravens prepare to face the Broncos Thursday night, much of the preparation has focused on film from last year’s AFC divisional round matchup against Denver. That comeback victory was one of the most iconic in Ravens’ history, but it brings back much different memories for Dumervil.
“It hurts every time I watch it, even being here,” Dumervil said this week.
“I definitely could have been there,” Dumervil said.
The Ravens’ 38-35 overtime victory turned out to be Dumervil’s final game in a Broncos uniform.
Dumervil’s departure from Denver was not pretty, as the team cut him following a now infamous fax debacle. Dumervil initially agreed to take a pay cut, but a faxed contract from his agent to the Broncos arrived seven minutes late and the team opted to release him.
Dumervil considered returning to the Broncos, the team that drafted him in 2006, but he ultimately decided a change of scenery was best. He signed a five-year deal with the Ravens in March reportedly worth $35 million.
Returning to Denver in his first game with the Ravens adds to an already-compelling storyline, but Dumervil insists he’s not out to show the Broncos made a mistake cutting him.
“You have to prove yourself year-in and year-out, and that’s what I have to do,” Dumervil said. “It’s not about any particular team or any particular organization. It’s just as a player and as a competitor – I’ve been doing it for almost eight years now – you’ve got to prove yourself. And that’s the great thing about the NFL, is you have opportunity, and whenever you have an opportunity to prove yourself, I think you should take full advantage of it. So, I’m looking forward to that.”
Dumervil is not too interested in talking about his time with the Broncos and how his tenure in Denver ended.
But he knows the questions are unavoidable. During his session with the media this week, 14 of 17 questions asked by reporters dealt with how last season ended or his feelings toward the Broncos.
“I’m a Raven and I feel great about that,” Dumervil said. “It’s different. I’ve been in Denver for the first seven years of my career. Now going [from] there to the visiting locker room is definitely different, but I’m excited.”
Since coming to Baltimore, Dumervil has drawn high praise from his teammates and coaches. The 29-year-old defender has already become a leader in the locker room, and appears primed to bolster the pass rush on the opposite side of 2011 Defensive Player of the Year
“He’s a guy that belongs here,” Suggs said. “He has the mentality that works here, that we have here, which is [to] work. He’s not afraid to work hard and get better every day. That’s the type of thing we need going forward.”
Suggs helped recruit Dumervil to Baltimore once he became a free agent, and the two have hit it off in their six months as teammates. They have lockers next to one another on gamedays, and Dumervil’s laid-back personality balances out Suggs’ bravado.
Suggs knows that while Dumervil has downplayed his feelings about facing the Broncos in the opener, his new teammate is looking forward to chasing down Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning with him Thursday night.
“He’s giving me the vibe that he’s going to be calm,” Suggs said with a smile. “When that ball is kicked off – once it is kicked off – he’s going to be excited.”